Friday, July 5, 2013

Research confirms vision therapy can Improve reading comprehension and improve a child's overall attention in the classroom

Results of a study of sixth grade students with below average reading scores found that providing visual attention therapy can significantly improve their attention and reading comprehension.  Visual attention is one component of a group of skills related to visual information processing - the way the brain takes in and makes sense of the images received by the eye.

The developmental optometrists at our Vancouver eye clinic have witnessed this improvement first hand.  Kids who hate reading, can't do it very well and read at below grade level have improved following therapy to become kids who love reading and often can read at above grade level.

The study was published in the November/December 2003 Journal of Learning Disabilities.  The study's authors found that as few as 12 one-hour sessions of vision therapy can enhance reading ability and improve a child's overall attention in the classroom.

Dr. Harold A. Solan, O.D., M.A., FCOVD, Distinguished Service Professor of Optometry at the State College of Optometry, State University of New York and lead researcher for the study gave the following commentary on the results:

Results of this study support previous research that found visual attention and eye movement abilities contribute significantly to a child's ability to read.  This newest research confirms that visual attention can be improved through vision therapy resulting in enhanced reading comprehension.  Far too often, children with reading and learning difficulties may struggle in school because of undetected vision problems.  Difficulties with maintaining visual attention and processing visual information in the classroom doom many children to reading failure. Results of this and other studies now confirm the significance of good visual abilities to reading and learning. Vision abilities needed to succeed in school can be developed through programs of vision therapy which can lead to improvements in reading and learning as found in our study.

Vision therapy programs are tailored by the prescribing doctor depending on the type of visual problem being treated.  To treat visual attention, the therapy included specific procedures to improve perceptual accuracy, visual efficiency and visual search and scanning abilities. Other procedures enhanced how the eyes and brain process visual information. 

The children who were the subject of the study were tested before and after vision therapy using standardized measures of attention processing.  One group of kids received vision therapy and a second group did not.  The vision therapy group showed significant gains in attention scores and reading comprehension. In terms of learning rate, these students reading skills progressed 1.1 years or 220%.

Visual attention therapy procedures, a part of optometric vision therapy, have for a long time been used in treating patients with learning-related vision problems. According to Dr. Sloan: 

This study further confirms the benefits of vision therapy that developmental optometrists have clinically reported in their patients for many years. Vision therapy, a prescribed program of visually guided procedures or 'exercises', is used to help the eyes work together and with the brain to properly interpret visual information.

According to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), many children have difficulty getting their eyes and brains to work together. Most often these problems are not related to how clearly they can see the board at the front of the classroom – 20/20 visual acuity- but how effectively their eyes and brain acquire and process what they are seeing.  To learn more about how vision problems can affect learning visit www.covd.org.

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Lots of free parking!
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Vision Source Vancouver
Dr. M.K. Randhawa, OD
2625 East 49th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V5S1J9

Tel: (604) 435-3931

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